Archive for October, 2016

The First Ever Work Party at Laurel Marsh

On October 29, the Land Trust held a very productive work party at Laurel Marsh. With a turn-out of 20 volunteers, all the projects on the list were completed!

We would like to thank all our volunteers for their hard work. In alphabetical order: Bruce Burnett, Frank Chiaramonte, Tamara Christensen, Bob Clark, Larry Connors, Steve Craig, Paul Edwards, Herb Etter, Gary Griffin, Craig & Ian Henry, Karen Kelleher, Byron Lyon, Monty Lyons, Bob Orciari, Eric Rahn, Glen Richardson, Elaine Sederquist, and Fred & Jan Tullock.  Because of their hard work, our projects were completed all before noon!  A special thank-you goes out to Larry Connors for designing our new benches. He constructed the 2 stand-alone benches in his workshop and planned and pre-cut pieces for the observation deck bench in the days leading up to the work party.

Just a portion of our fine group of volunteers:

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We added a bench at our trail entrance. This bench overlooks Wilson Pond and will provide Laurel Marsh visitors and neighbors with a beautiful sitting location to soak up the afternoon sun.

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Or just a nice place to hang-out anytime.

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Larry worked on the observation deck. It needed some slight repairs to the railings, and he added a generously-sized sitting area. This is a great location to relax and look out over the Marsh – it is beautiful in all seasons!

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Adding the finishing touches:

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A second bench was added on the far end of our property after we extended the trail down from the ledge. Our volunteers worked diligently to dig holes, remove rocks, and level the bench.20161029_104400

What? Still more rocks?

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Trying again:

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Ah, perfect!

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Our Land Trust President, Bob Orciari, spotted this rock while we were in the work party’s planning stages. It comes equipped with a natural sitting bench. It is perfect for watching wildlife.

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Maybe bring a pillow…

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We also did quite a bit of general brush clearing around the trails and benches to enhance the views. Volunteers came prepared with power equipment too!

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The trail area of Laurel Marsh rises up and overlooks both Wilson Pond and Laurel Marsh. It is an excellent location for viewing sunrise AND sunset. Our volunteers cleared out some areas where the brush was growing in after a small fire altered the landscape a few years back.

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We also cleared out some low-hanging branches to open up the view from the street.

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Come and visit!  You will be amazed at this hidden Harwinton gem!

 

Visit by the Connecticut Botanical Society

On September 17, the CT Botanical Society conducted a survey of the plants, shrubs and trees along Bull Pond. With its variety of habitats, the Bull Pond Preserve was an ideal location for a botanical survey. About a half dozen expert botanists from around the state came to conduct the survey. The Trust was impressed by their expertise and was truly honored to have such an organization dedicate its time to visit one of our properties.

One of the main goals of the CT Botanical Society is to increase public knowledge of the state’s plants. This was evident, as its experts were happy to share their knowledge with about 20 local residents in attendance. Professor Sigrun Gadwa, who led an informational walk, was enthusiastically willing to answer the barrage of questions of “what’s this”, “what’s that”, “is it good for wildlife”, “and can I eat it?” She was particularly helpful to several young people, who may be on their way to a career in protecting the environment.

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Sigrun found a good diversity of shrubs along the east shore of the pond, including chokeberry, swamp azalea, shadbush, elderberry and several different low-growing spiraeas. She also pointed out a young pin oak, a species of tree which does not seem to be common in Harwinton. One of the sticktights, Bidens cernua, and also the blue joint grass were indicator species for unpolluted sites. Another indicator of good water quality was the fact that the shoreline marsh consisted of species like soft stem bulrush and branched bur-reed, rather than Phragmites. She found the abundance of purple New York aster along the shoreline and the ground cover of bristly dewberry and cinquefoil to be very attractive. She indicated that the area around the pond, with its diversity and accessibility, was exceptionally well-suited to teaching about pond-side vegetation.

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Sigrun Gadwa discusses bur-reed identification.

Sigrun did point out an invasive shrub, glossy buckthorn, growing sporadically along the shore of the pond. She spent considerable time explaining how the plant can rapidly spread and how to eliminate it by painting an herbicide onto cut stems. Land Trust volunteers promptly treated all the buckthorn according to her recommendations, and will check for any re-sprouting next spring.

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Glossy buckthorn. Pretty, but invasive.

For anyone who wishes to learn more about plant identification, the CT Botanical Society maintains an outstanding website.

Bull Pond Plant Inventory

 

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Open Space Acquisition Plan Completed

Over the last year, the Land Trust developed and completed a comprehensive Land Acquisition Plan.  The Plan demonstrates the Trust’s commitment to properly acquire and protect important natural open spaces in Harwinton.  It provides a set of guiding principles and procedures to assure the Trust acquires only the best properties within its financial means.  It explains that not all lands have the same level of importance, and that there are limits to the Trust’s capacity to provide proper stewardship on future acquisitions.  Thus, the Trust will need to be selective when acquiring new properties.  The plan has a rating system that can assess potential acquisitions based on environmental, social and public-use factors.  The Open Space Acquisition Plan, 2016 can be read in its entirety in the Plans and Documents section of our website.  If you feel that you may own land that could have importance as preserved open space, we’d be very happy to talk with you.